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Canon G1 X vs Leica M9

The Canon PowerShot G1 X and the Leica M9 are two enthusiast cameras that were officially introduced, respectively, in January 2012 and September 2009. The G1X is a fixed lens compact, while the M9 is a rangefinder-focusing mirrorless. The cameras are based on an 1.5-inch (G1X) and a full frame (M9) sensor. The Canon has a resolution of 14.2 megapixels, whereas the Leica provides 18.1 MP.

Below is an overview of the main specs of the two cameras as a starting point for the comparison.

Headline Specifications
Canon G1 X
versus
Leica M9
Canon G1 X   Leica M9
Fixed lens compact camera Rangefinder camera
28-112mm f/2.8-5.8 Leica M mount lenses
14.2 MP, 1.5" Sensor 18.1 MP, Full Frame Sensor
1080/24p Video no Video
ISO 100-12,800 ISO 80-2,500
Optical viewfinder Optical viewfinder
3.0 LCD, 922k dots 2.5 LCD, 230k dots
Swivel screen (not touch-sensitive) Fixed screen (not touch-sensitive)
1.9 shutter flaps per second 2 shutter flaps per second
117 x 81 x 65 mm, 534 g 139 x 80 x 37 mm, 585 g

Going beyond this snapshot of core features and characteristics, what are the differences between the Canon PowerShot G1 X and the Leica M9? Which one should you buy? Read on to find out how these two cameras compare with respect to their body size, their imaging sensors, their shooting features, their input-output connections, and their reception by expert reviewers.

Body comparison

The physical size and weight of the Canon G1 X and the Leica M9 are illustrated in the side-by-side display below. The two cameras are presented according to their relative size. Three consecutive perspectives from the front, the top, and the back are available. All width, height and depth measures are rounded to the nearest millimeter.

The M9 can be obtained in two different colors (black, silver), while the G1X is only available in black.

Size Canon G1 X vs Leica M9
Compare G1X versus M9 top
Comparison G1X or M9 rear

If the front view area (width x height) of the cameras is taken as an aggregate measure of their size, the Leica M9 is notably larger (17 percent) than the Canon G1 X. In this context, it is worth noting that neither the G1X nor the M9 are weather-sealed.

The above size and weight comparisons are to some extent incomplete and possibly misleading, as the G1X has a lens built in, whereas the M9 is an interchangeable lens camera that requires a separate lens. Attaching the latter will add extra weight and bulk to the setup. You can compare the optics available for the M9 and their specifications in the Leica M Lens Catalog.

The following table provides a synthesis of the main physical specifications of the two cameras and other similar ones. If you would like to visualize and compare a different camera combination, you can navigate to the CAM-parator app and make your selection from a broad list of cameras there.

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Body Specifications
    Camera
Model
Camera
Width
Camera
Height
Camera
Depth
Camera
Weight
Battery
Life
Weather
Sealing
Camera
Launch
Launch
Price (USD)
Street
Price
1.
 
Canon G1 X 117 mm 81 mm 65 mm 534 g 250 n Jan 2012 799i
2.
 
Leica M9 139 mm 80 mm 37 mm 585 g .. n Sep 2009 7,999i
3.
 
Canon G1 X Mark II 116 mm 74 mm 66 mm 553 g 240 n Feb 2014 799i
4.
 
Canon G16 109 mm 76 mm 40 mm 356 g 360 n Aug 2013 549 i
5.
 
Canon S120 100 mm 59 mm 29 mm 217 g 230 n Aug 2013 449i
6.
 
Canon 650D 133 mm 100 mm 79 mm 575 g 440 n Jun 2012 849i
7.
 
Canon SX50 123 mm 87 mm 106 mm 595 g 315 n Sep 2012 429i
8.
 
Canon 1100D 130 mm 100 mm 78 mm 495 g 700 n Feb 2011 449i
9.
 
Canon 550D 129 mm 98 mm 62 mm 530 g 440 n Feb 2010 699i
10.
 
Canon 500D 129 mm 98 mm 62 mm 520 g 400 n Mar 2009 799i
11.
 
Canon 450D 129 mm 98 mm 62 mm 524 g 500 n Jan 2008 799i
12.
 
Leica M10 139 mm 80 mm 39 mm 660 g 210 Y Jan 2017 6,595 i
13.
 
Leica X Vario 133 mm 73 mm 95 mm 680 g 450 n Jun 2013 2,850i
14.
 
Leica M Typ 240 139 mm 80 mm 42 mm 680 g .. Y Sep 2012 6,950i
15.
 
Leica V-LUX 4 125 mm 87 mm 110 mm 588 g 540 n Sep 2012 949i
16.
 
Leica V-LUX 3 124 mm 81 mm 95 mm 540 g 410 n Dec 2011 949i
17.
 
Leica M8 139 mm 80 mm 37 mm 591 g .. n Sep 2006 5,499i
Notes: Measurements and pricing do not include easily detachable parts, such as add-on or interchangeable lenses or optional viewfinders.

Any camera decision will naturally be influenced heavily by the price. The retail prices at the time of the camera’s release place the model in the market relative to other models in the producer’s line-up and the competition. The G1X was launched at a lower price than the M9, despite having a lens built in. Usually, retail prices stay at first close to the launch price, but after several months, discounts become available. Later in the product cycle and, in particular, when the replacement model is about to appear, further discounting and stock clearance sales often push the camera price considerably down. Then, after the new model is out, very good deals can frequently be found on the pre-owned market.

Sensor comparison

The imaging sensor is at the core of digital cameras and its size is one of the main determining factors of image quality. All other things equal, a large sensor will have larger individual pixel-units that offer better low-light sensitivity, wider dynamic range, and richer color-depth than smaller pixels in a sensor of the same technological generation. Furthermore, a large sensor camera will give the photographer more possibilities to use shallow depth-of-field in order to isolate a subject from the background. On the downside, larger sensors are more costly to manufacture and tend to lead to bigger and heavier cameras and lenses.

Of the two cameras under consideration, the Canon G1 X features an 1.5-inch sensor and the Leica M9 a full frame sensor. The sensor area in the M9 is 230 percent bigger. As a result of these sensor size differences, the cameras have a format factor of, respectively, 1.85 and 1.0. The sensor in the G1X has a native 4:3 aspect ratio, while the one in the M9 offers a 3:2 aspect.

Canon G1 X and Leica M9 sensor measures

With 18.1MP, the M9 offers a higher resolution than the G1X (14.2MP), but the M9 nevertheless has larger individual pixels (pixel pitch of 6.91μm versus 4.30μm for the G1X) due to its larger sensor. However, the G1X is a much more recent model (by 2 years and 4 months) than the M9, and its sensor will have benefitted from technological advances during this time that enhance the light gathering capacity of its pixel-units. Coming back to sensor resolution, it should be mentioned that the M9 has no anti-alias filter installed, so that it can capture all the detail its sensor resolves.

The resolution advantage of the Leica M9 implies greater flexibility for cropping images or the possibility to print larger pictures. The maximum print size of the M9 for good quality output (200 dots per inch) amounts to 26.1 x 17.4 inches or 66.2 x 44.1 cm, for very good quality (250 dpi) 20.8 x 13.9 inches or 53 x 35.3 cm, and for excellent quality (300 dpi) 17.4 x 11.6 inches or 44.1 x 29.4 cm. The corresponding values for the Canon G1 X are 21.8 x 16.3 inches or 55.3 x 41.5 cm for good quality, 17.4 x 13.1 inches or 44.2 x 33.2 cm for very good quality, and 14.5 x 10.9 inches or 36.8 x 27.6 cm for excellent quality prints.

The Canon PowerShot G1 X has a native sensitivity range from ISO 100 to ISO 12800. The corresponding ISO settings for the Leica M9 are ISO 80 to ISO 2500 (no boost).

G1X versus M9 MP

Since 2007, DXO Mark has published sensor performance measurements that have been derived using a consistent methodology. This service determines an overall sensor rating, as well as sub-scores for low-light sensitivity ("DXO Sports"), dynamic range ("DXO Landscape"), and color depth ("DXO Portrait"). Of the two cameras under consideration, the M9 has a markedly higher DXO score than the G1X (overall score 9 points higher), which will translate into better image quality. The advantage is based on 0.8 bits higher color depth, 0.9 EV in additional dynamic range, and 0.5 stops in additional low light sensitivity. The adjacent table reports on the physical sensor characteristics and the outcomes of the DXO sensor quality tests for a sample of comparator-cameras.

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Sensor Characteristics
    Camera
Model
Sensor
Class
Resolution
(MP)
Horiz.
Pixels
Vert.
Pixels
Video
Format
DXO
Portrait
DXO
Landscape
DXO
Sports
DXO
Overall
1.
 
Canon G1 X 1.5-inch 14.2 4352 32641080/24p21.710.864460
2.
 
Leica M9 Full Frame 18.1 5212 3472none22.511.788469
3.
 
Canon G1 X Mark II 1.5-inch 13.0 4160 31201080/30p21.510.858158
4.
 
Canon G16 1/1.7 12.0 4000 30001080/60p21.011.723054
5.
 
Canon S120 1/1.7 12.0 4000 30001080/60p21.311.924656
6.
 
Canon 650D APS-C 17.9 5184 34561080/30p21.711.272262
7.
 
Canon SX50 1/2.3 12.0 4000 30001080/24p20.311.217947
8.
 
Canon 1100D APS-C 12.2 4272 2848720/30p21.911.075562
9.
 
Canon 550D APS-C 17.9 5184 34561080/30p22.111.578466
10.
 
Canon 500D APS-C 15.1 4752 31681080/20p21.711.566363
11.
 
Canon 450D APS-C 12.2 4272 2848none21.910.869261
12.
 
Leica M10 Full Frame 23.8 5952 3992none24.413.2213386
13.
 
Leica X Vario APS-C 16.1 4928 32721080/30p23.412.7132078
14.
 
Leica M Typ 240 Full Frame 23.7 5952 39761080/25p24.013.3186084
15.
 
Leica V-LUX 4 1/2.3 12.0 4000 30001080/60p19.811.150143
16.
 
Leica V-LUX 3 1/2.3 12.0 4000 30001080/60p19.711.043042
17.
 
Leica M8 APS-H 10.4 3936 2630none21.111.366359
Note: DXO values in italics represent estimates based on sensor size and age.

Many modern cameras are not only capable of taking still images, but can also record movies. The G1X indeed provides movie recording capabilities, while the M9 does not. The highest resolution format that the G1X can use is 1080/24p.

Feature comparison

Apart from body and sensor, cameras can and do differ across a variety of features. The G1X and the M9 are similar in the sense that both have an optical viewfinder. The latter is useful for getting a clear image for framing even in brightly lit environments. The table below summarizes some of the other core capabilities of the Canon G1 X and Leica M9 in connection with corresponding information for a sample of similar cameras.

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Core Features
    Camera
Model
Viewfinder
(Type or
000 dots)
Control
Panel
(yes/no)
LCD
Specifications
(inch/000 dots)
LCD
Attach-
ment
Touch
Screen
(yes/no)
Mech
Shutter
Speed
Shutter
Flaps
(1/sec)
Built-in
Flash
(yes/no)
Built-in
Image
Stab
1.
 
Canon G1 Xoptical n3.0 / 922 swivel n 1/4000s 1.9 Y Y
2.
 
Leica M9optical n2.5 / 230 fixed n 1/4000s 2.0 n n
3.
 
Canon G1 X Mark IIoptional n3.0 / 1040 tilting Y 1/4000s 5.2 Y Y
4.
 
Canon G16optical n3.0 / 922 fixed n 1/4000s 2.2 Y Y
5.
 
Canon S120none n3.0 / 922 fixed Y 1/2000s 12.1 Y Y
6.
 
Canon 650Doptical n3.0 / 1040 swivel Y 1/4000s 5.0 Y n
7.
 
Canon SX50202 n3.0 / 461 swivel n 1/2000s 2.2 Y Y
8.
 
Canon 1100Doptical n2.7 / 230 fixed n 1/4000s 3.0 Y n
9.
 
Canon 550Doptical n3.0 / 1040 fixed n 1/4000s 3.7 Y n
10.
 
Canon 500Doptical n3.0 / 920 fixed n 1/4000s 3.4 Y n
11.
 
Canon 450Doptical n3.0 / 230 fixed n 1/4000s 3.5 Y n
12.
 
Leica M10optical n3.0 / 1037 fixed n 1/4000s 5.0 n n
13.
 
Leica X Variooptional n3.0 / 920 fixed n 1/2000s 5.0 Y n
14.
 
Leica M Typ 240optical n3.0 / 920 fixed n 1/4000s 3.0 n n
15.
 
Leica V-LUX 41312 n3.0 / 460 swivel n 1/4000s 12.0 Y Y
16.
 
Leica V-LUX 3202 n3.0 / 460 swivel n 1/2000s 12.0 Y Y
17.
 
Leica M8optical n2.5 / 230 fixed n 1/8000s 2.0 n n

One difference between the cameras concerns the presence of an on-board flash. The G1X has one, while the M9 does not. While the built-in flash of the G1X is not very powerful, it can at times be useful as a fill-in light.

The G1X has an articulated LCD that can be turned to be front-facing. This characteristic will be appreciated by vloggers and photographers who are interested in snapping selfies. In contrast, the M9 does not have a selfie-screen.

Concerning the storage of imaging data, both the G1X and the M9 write their files to SDXC cards.

Connectivity comparison

For some imaging applications, the extent to which a camera can communicate with its environment can be an important aspect in the camera decision process. The table below provides an overview of the connectivity of the Canon PowerShot G1 X and Leica M9 and, in particular, the interfaces the cameras (and selected comparators) provide for accessory control and data transfer.

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Input-Output Connections
    Camera
Model
Hotshoe
Port
Internal
Mic / Speaker
Microphone
Port
Headphone
Port
HDMI
Port
USB
Port
WiFi
Support
NFC
Support
Bluetooth
Support
1.
 
Canon G1 XYstereo / mono--mini2.0---
2.
 
Leica M9Y- / ----2.0---
3.
 
Canon G1 X Mark IIYstereo / mono--mini2.0YY-
4.
 
Canon G16Ystereo / mono--mini2.0Y--
5.
 
Canon S120-stereo / mono--mini2.0Y--
6.
 
Canon 650DYstereo / monoY-mini2.0---
7.
 
Canon SX50Ystereo / mono--mini2.0---
8.
 
Canon 1100DYstereo / mono--mini2.0---
9.
 
Canon 550DYstereo / -Y-mini2.0---
10.
 
Canon 500DYmono / mono--mini2.0---
11.
 
Canon 450DY- / ---mini2.0---
12.
 
Leica M10Y- / -----Y--
13.
 
Leica X VarioYstereo / mono--mini2.0---
14.
 
Leica M Typ 240Ystereo / mono---2.0---
15.
 
Leica V-LUX 4Ystereo / monoY-mini2.0---
16.
 
Leica V-LUX 3Ystereo / ---mini2.0---
17.
 
Leica M8Y- / ----2.0---

Both the G1X and the M9 have been discontinued, but can regularly be found used on eBay. The M9 was replaced by the Leica M Typ 240, while the G1X was followed by the Canon G1X Mark II. Further information on the two cameras (e.g. user guides, manuals), as well as related accessories, can be found on the official Canon and Leica websites.

Review summary

So how do things add up? Is there a clear favorite between the Canon G1 X and the Leica M9? Which camera is better? Below is a summary of the relative strengths of each of the two contestants.

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Advantages of the Canon PowerShot G1 X:

  • Better moiré control: Has an anti-alias filter to avoid artificial patterns to appear in images.
  • Broader imaging potential: Can record not only still images but also 1080/24p movies.
  • Larger screen: Has a bigger rear LCD (3.0" vs 2.5") for image review and settings control.
  • More detailed LCD: Has a higher resolution rear screen (922k vs 230k dots).
  • More flexible LCD: Has a swivel screen for odd-angle shots in portrait or landscape orientation.
  • More selfie-friendly: Has an articulated screen that can be turned to be front-facing.
  • Ready to shoot: Has a lens built-in, whereas the M9 requires a separate lens.
  • More compact: Is smaller (117x81mm vs 139x80mm) and thus needs less room in the bag.
  • Less heavy: Is lighter even though it comes with a built-in lens (unlike the M9).
  • Sharper images: Has hand-shake reducing image stabilization built-in.
  • Easier fill-in: Is equipped with a small onboard flash to brighten deep shadow areas.
  • More affordable: Was introduced at a lower price, despite coming with a built-in lens.
  • More modern: Reflects 2 years and 4 months of technical progress since the M9 launch.

ilogo

Reasons to prefer the Leica M9:

  • More detail: Has more megapixels (18.1 vs 14.2MP), which boosts linear resolution by 15%.
  • Maximized detail: Lacks an anti-alias filter to exploit the sensor's full resolution potential.
  • Better image quality: Scores markedly higher (9 points) in the DXO overall evaluation.
  • More dynamic range: Captures a broader range of light and dark details (0.9 EV of extra DR).
  • Better low-light sensitivity: Can shoot in dim conditions (0.5 stops ISO advantage).
  • More flexible: Takes interchangeable lenses and can thus be used with different optics.
  • More prestigious: Has the Leica luxury appeal, which ensures a high resale value.
  • More heavily discounted: Has been around for much longer (launched in September 2009).

If the count of individual advantages (bullet points above) is taken as a guide, the G1X is the clear winner of the match-up (13 : 8 points). However, the relative importance of the various individual camera aspects will vary according to personal preferences and needs, so that you might like to apply corresponding weights to the particular features before making a decision on a new camera. A professional wildlife photographer will view the differences between cameras in a way that diverges from the perspective of a family photog, and a person interested in architecture has distinct needs from a sports shooter. Hence, the decision which camera is best and worth buying is often a very personal one.

G1X 13:08 M9

In any case, while the comparison of the spec-sheets of cameras can offer a general idea of their imaging potential, it remains incomplete and does no justice, for example, to the way the G1X or the M9 perform in practice. At times, user reviews, such as those published at amazon, address these issues in a useful manner, but such feedback is on many occasions incomplete, inconsistent, and unreliable.

Expert reviews

This is why hands-on reviews by experts are important. The adjacent summary-table relays the overall verdicts of several of the most popular camera review sites (amateurphotographer [AP], cameralabs [CL], digitalcameraworld [DCW], dpreview [DPR], ephotozine [EPZ], photographyblog [PB]). As can be seen, the professional reviewers agree in many cases on the quality of different cameras, but sometimes their assessments diverge, reinforcing the earlier point that a camera decision is often a very personal choice.

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Expert Camera Reviews
     Camera 
 Model 
 AP 
 score 
 CL 
 score 
 DCW 
 score 
 DPR 
 score 
 EPZ 
 score 
 PB 
 score 
Camera
Launch
Launch
Price (USD)
Street
Price
1.
 
Canon G1 X5/5+..76/1004/54.5/5 Jan 2012 799i
2.
 
Leica M9........4.5/5.. Sep 2009 7,999i
3.
 
Canon G1 X Mark II3/5+..77/1004/54.5/5 Feb 2014 799i
4.
 
Canon G164/5+....4.5/54.5/5 Aug 2013 549 i
5.
 
Canon S120..+ +....4.5/54.5/5 Aug 2013 449i
6.
 
Canon 650D4/5+ +..77/1004.5/54.5/5 Jun 2012 849i
7.
 
Canon SX503/5+ +..72/1004.5/54.5/5 Sep 2012 429i
8.
 
Canon 1100D..80/100..69/1004/54.5/5 Feb 2011 449i
9.
 
Canon 550D..+ +..77/1004/54.5/5 Feb 2010 699i
10.
 
Canon 500D..+ +..74/1004.5/54.5/5 Mar 2009 799i
11.
 
Canon 450D..+ +..+ +4/54.5/5 Jan 2008 799i
12.
 
Leica M104.5/5......4/54.5/5 Jan 2017 6,595 i
13.
 
Leica X Vario3/5......4/54/5 Jun 2013 2,850i
14.
 
Leica M Typ 2404/5......4/5.. Sep 2012 6,950i
15.
 
Leica V-LUX 4............ Sep 2012 949i
16.
 
Leica V-LUX 3............ Dec 2011 949i
17.
 
Leica M8......+ +.... Sep 2006 5,499i
Notes: (+ +) highly recommended; (+) recommended; (o) reviewed; (..) not available.

The above review scores should be interpreted with care, though. The ratings were established in reference to similarly priced cameras that were available in the market at the time of the review. Hence, a score should always be seen in the context of the camera's market launch date and its price, and comparing ratings of very distinct cameras or ones that are far apart in terms of their release date have little meaning. It should also be noted that some of the review sites have over time altered the way they render their verdicts.

Canon G1 X:
Check Ebay offers
Leica M9:
Check Ebay offers

Other camera comparisons

Did this review help to inform your camera decision process? In case you are interested in seeing how other cameras pair up, just make a corresponding selection in the search boxes below. Alternatively, you can follow any of the listed hyperlinks for comparisons that others found interesting.

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    Specifications: Canon G1 X vs Leica M9

    Below is a side-by-side comparison of the specs of the two cameras to facilitate a quick review of their differences and common features.

    Camera Specifications
    Camera Model Canon G1 X Leica M9
    Camera Type Fixed lens compact camera Rangefinder camera
    Camera Lens 28-112mm f/2.8-5.8 Leica M mount lenses
    Launch Date January 2012 September 2009
    Launch Price USD 799 USD 7,999
    Sensor Specs Canon G1 X Leica M9
    Sensor Technology CMOS CCD
    Sensor Format 1.5" Sensor Full Frame Sensor
    Sensor Size 18.7 x 14.0 mm 36.0 x 24.0 mm
    Sensor Area 261.8 mm2 864 mm2
    Sensor Diagonal 23.4 mm 43.3 mm
    Crop Factor 1.85x 1.0x
    Sensor Resolution 14.2 Megapixels 18.1 Megapixels
    Image Resolution 4352 x 3264 pixels 5212 x 3472 pixels
    Pixel Pitch 4.30 μm 6.91 μm
    Pixel Density 5.43 MP/cm2 2.09 MP/cm2
    Moiré control Anti-Alias filter no AA filter
    Movie Capability 1080/24p Video no Video
    ISO Setting 100 - 12,800 ISO 80 - 2,500 ISO
    DXO Sensor Quality (score) 60 69
    DXO Color Depth (bits) 21.7 22.5
    DXO Dynamic Range (EV) 10.8 11.7
    DXO Low Light (ISO) 644 884
    Screen Specs Canon G1 X Leica M9
    Viewfinder Type Optical viewfinder Optical viewfinder
    Viewfinder Field of View 74% 100%
    Viewfinder Magnification 0.68x
    LCD Framing Live View
    Rear LCD Size 3.0inch 2.5inch
    LCD Resolution 922k dots 230k dots
    LCD Attachment Swivel screen Fixed screen
    Shooting Specs Canon G1 X Leica M9
    Focus System Contrast-detect AF Manual Focus
    Continuous Shooting 1.9 shutter flaps/s 2 shutter flaps/s
    Fill Flash Built-in Flash no On-Board Flash
    Storage Medium SDXC cards SDXC cards
    Second Storage Option Single card slot Single card slot
    UHS card support no no
    Connectivity Specs Canon G1 X Leica M9
    External Flash Hotshoe Hotshoe
    USB Connector USB 2.0 USB 2.0
    HDMI Port mini HDMI no HDMI
    Wifi Support no Wifi no Wifi
    Body Specs Canon G1 X Leica M9
    Battery Type NB-10L BLI-312
    Body Dimensions 117 x 81 x 65 mm
    (4.6 x 3.2 x 2.6 in)
    139 x 80 x 37 mm
    (5.5 x 3.1 x 1.5 in)
    Camera Weight 534 g (18.8 oz) 585 g (20.6 oz)

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